No impostors among this Sweet 16

2:30 AM ET

Two years ago, a initial weekend of a NCAA competition featured one of a low-key misfortune calls in new Mar history.

SMU, a No. 6 seed experiencing a initial competition breakthrough of a Larry Brown restoration, led a first-round competition — 13-loss, 11-seed UCLA — by dual with 22 seconds remaining. The Bruins inbounded from a sideline. By design, ensure Norman Powell circled right and gathering to a baseline, while Bryce Alford used a backscreen on a conflicting wing. By a time Powell’s pass strike Alford in a brief corner, however, SMU’s skinny defenders had sealed in. Alford retreated, circled behind around another screen, and afterwards — notwithstanding carrying 12 seconds left, notwithstanding Markus Kennedy’s soaring competition — flung an irregular fadeaway request from 23 feet.

The shot was so distant off that SMU brazen Yanick Moreira, fearing a UCLA putback, jumped to accommodate a arena as a turn flew far-reaching of a rim. An official, station during a many false probable angle (and during slightest 30 feet from a rim) called Moreira for goaltending. He was wrong. UCLA won by one.

Earlier that day, 14th-seeded UAB repelled a disastrously infrequent Iowa State. Two days later, a overmatched, small Blazers got rolled. Just like that — roughly by collision — a 2015 UCLA Bruins found themselves in a Sweet 16.

Good news: The 2017 NCAA competition didn’t make these mistakes.

If there is one thing any and any one of a 16 teams personification in New York, San Jose, Memphis and Kansas City subsequent weekend have in common, it is that they did not arrive during this theatre by accident.

The Sweet 16 is set, so now what?

Surviving a NCAA tournament’s initial weekend is nice. But a highway customarily gets worse from here. What’s it going to take for any organisation to advance? And what could send them packing?

  • South Carolina ends Duke’s crazy deteriorate in a second round

    The Blue Devils never utterly could get a hoop on a deteriorate and it showed in their turnover-filled 88-81 wreckage to a Gamecocks in a second turn of a NCAA tournament.

  • Once again, beginner stars will keep Duke among pretension contenders

    Duke has a No. 2 recruiting category though a lot of doubt marks. Next season, a Blue Devils’ fortunes will count on who earnings and a freshmen.

  • We can appreciate a 2017 tourney’s radical methods for that. Thursday and Friday’s first-round movement was roughly disconertingly sleepy, equally giveaway of overtimes, underdogs and buzzer-beaters — a good stuff, a things a initial dual days of a competition customarily serves in Cheesecake Factory-sized portions.

    Yet this exhausted start came with a poignant upside: A second-round crowded of fascinating matchups between bona fide, high-quality (and, yes, irregularly mis-seeded) teams.

    It didn’t defect — slightest of all on Sunday.

    From start to finish, a second round’s second day was a gem. Michigan’s storybook postseason float continued in Indianapolis, where a Wolverines’ implausible flexibility and all-cylinders congruity carried them past No. 2 seed Louisville, one of a best teams and toughest tactical matchups John Beilein has played all season. Michigan done customarily 6 3s, 10 fewer than in a one-point first-round win over Oklahoma State, and a Wolverines organisation that doesn’t need to fire a lights out to kick Louisville is a terrifying awaiting indeed.

    Equally terrifying? A Kentucky organisation that wins with a D. The Wildcats’ win over Wichita State, a organisation with top-10 potency numbers laughably carrying a No. 10 seed, was punctuated by back-to-back blocks on a final dual security of a game.

    A small after North Carolina shot poorly, incited a turn over too much, and didn’t come anywhere tighten to a nation’s-best descent resilient prowess, and still managed to narrowly shun a diversion Arkansas dissapoint bid. Oregon, a best shot-blocking organisation in a nation this season, had to continue Rhode Island’s 65 percent sharpened from 2, an out-of-body knowledge by haven ensure Stanford Robinson, and a 7-of-22 night from Dillon Brooks to overcome Rhode Island in a shutting moments in Sacramento. Baylor had to reason on for dear life opposite mutinous USC. Even Kansas and UCLA were in parsimonious affairs until a final 10 mins of particular wins over Michigan State and Cincinnati.

    Then, of course, there was South Carolina — which, we know, kick Duke.

    Combined with Saturday’s formula (led by Wisconsin’s dissapoint of altogether No. 1 seed Villanova), a 16 teams still station have possibly (A) kick during slightest one unequivocally good team, (B) been challenged low into a second half, (C) won notwithstanding not carrying their best stuff, or (D) all of a above.

    The outcome is a fascinating brew of second-weekend matchups. UCLA and Kentucky, and all those shining freshmen on one floor. Gonzaga’s inside-out conflict opposite West Virginia’s swarming, turnover-fueled D. Baylor and South Carolina, where creates will be during a premium. Michigan’s ongoing scoring rebirth — and Beilein’s Super Soaker skills — opposite an Oregon behind line blank Chris Boucher‘s blocks though still winning all a same.

    Arizona manager Sean Miller confronting his former module Xavier; Butler and whatever it will prepare adult for North Carolina; Kansas confronting a ultimate frontcourt exam in Purdue; locked-in Wisconsin on a query for a third Final Four in 4 years in a segment that unexpected looks a lot some-more open to a idea.

    Somehow, this organisation manages to hover March’s elemental ideological divide: a enterprise for upsets on one hand, and a enterprise to see a best teams duke it out on a other. This Sweet 16 is chalky, though not too chalky; surprising, though not Butler-and-VCU-in-the-Final-Four surprising; full of good stories, though not to a wreckage of high stakes.

    (There are other themes during work here, too, generally if you’re into absurd retroactive lawsuit about discussion strength. The Big Ten was underrated! Eight of a ACC’s 9 teams are gone! Blah.)

    Most of all, this Sweet 16 is tangible by what it doesn’t have: mistakes.

    No one got lucky. No one avoided a test. No one stumbled backward, like Mr. Magoo, into a idea some other organisation some-more straightforwardly deserved. There were bad calls and mis-seedings this weekend, sure, though nothing so large that a teams that eventually emerged didn’t merit to do so.

    Things don’t always work out this way. Not prolonged after a 2015 NCAA tournament, it became an essay of faith that Steve Alford, in his initial dual seasons in Westwood, had taken UCLA to “two true Sweet 16s.” The sum of how outing No. 2 came about, a caveats about a officials’ goaltending gift, were roughly immediately rejected from a narrative.

    The shorthand exists since removing to a Sweet 16 means something. Or during slightest it should. In an ideal world, there is no 2015 UCLA. In a good Sweet 16, everybody belongs.

    This? This is a good Sweet 16. Whatever else we’ll contend about 2017’s unusual, disproportionate initial weekend, we can’t disagree with a result. Because no one got here by accident.